I wanted to learn everything about the environmental battle. I saw a country marked by apathy, and flickers of hope.
I’d felt strangely drawn to the Keystone XL.
In the fall of 2011, when I fantasized about walking the length of the 1,700-mile proposed pipeline that, if approved, will carry oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas I was a lowly dishwasher at an oilman’s camp in Deadhorse, Alaska.
At the time, I was broke, just out of grad school, and demoralized with my situation. I had a miserable job that didn’t require a high school diploma, let alone the liberal arts degree that had nearly bankrupted me, and I was living in quite possibly the coldest, darkest, dreariest place on earth. I was an adventurer at heart, burdened with the duties of making a living.
I can say, from experience, that when you find yourself washing spoon after spoon, in the middle of the night, in a silent kitchen, at a working camp 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, you will begin to question the direction of your life. But I can say this also: The soul must first be caged before it can be freed. And when Liam, the cook I worked with, suggested we go on an adventure the next summer and hike the XL, I knew his idea was both crazy and brilliant. I looked at him and said, with what must have been an almost frightening excitement, “We must!” …
You might ask: WHY would they transport dirty oil so far?
… The Port Arthur refinery operates as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which traditionally gives tax benefits to companies that use imported components to manufacture items within the United States. Usually refineries importing oil tax-free will still pay taxes when selling the refined products into the U.S. market. By both importing into and exporting from Port Arthur the company will avoid paying tax on the product sales.
A pretty sweet deal for Valero Energy Corporation (VLO).
I’ll be very surprised if President Obama does not approve the Pipeline.